Live from New Orleans

Chris Kromm of Southern Exposure magazine is blogging from New Orleans. It has now been over 100 days since the levees broke, but large swathes of the city still look as if they flooded yesterday.

For several months the national media have been pushing the "normalization" narrative, when they deign to talk about the Gulf Coast at all. You'd think that New Orleans inching, slowly but surely, towards recovery.

The facts on the ground are much bleaker, as Chris and his colleagues are discovering first-hand:

When meeting with community leaders and grassroots activists in New Orleans, you hear several themes again and again:

-- Things aren't getting better. There's nothing wrong with the media focusing on success stories, but to relate those pieces without acknowledging the fact that for tens of thousands of people life is "standing still," is, as one put it, "irresponsible."

-- Nobody knows what's happening with the rebuilding process. The various commissions and task forces devoted to reconstruction are secretive, and driven by "a small coterie of self-interested developers," says one long-time community organizer. Community input is not only absent, it's "actively discouraged."

-- We have yet to hear a kind word about FEMA or the Red Cross.

-- For people here, to see the "Katrina issue" falling off the national radar -- in the media, and in Washington politics -- seems "criminal." Most have despaired of any meaningful policy response. As one told us, "we have no illusions we're going to win on the important issues. All we can do is delay the bad." [...]
Stay tuned to Facing South to read more dispatches.

[Facing South]

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